Marcos vows tourism support, travel fair sees sales topping ’22

Marcos vows tourism support, travel fair sees sales topping ’22

Published By: Business Mirror

Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo / Special to the BusinessMirror

PRESIDENT Marcos Jr. assured the tourism industry of his administration’s continued commitment, as he acknowledged it as a “strong pillar of our economic growth.”

In a speech at the opening of the 3-day 34th Philippine Travel Mart (PTM) on September 1, the President said: “As you continue to invest your energies and passion into your trade and craft, you can be assured of this administration’s fervent support for the entire tourism industry. Policies and programs are underway to create a wholesome climate and stable foundation through the upgrading of critical tourism infrastructure, capacity-building for our workforce and entrepreneurs, fostering a more business-friendly environment, and [improving] the security and the rule of law in our country.”

He also recognized the tourism industry’s contribution to the economy,  “providing livelihood opportunities to more than five million of our kababayan [compatriot]. With the innate beauty of our 7,641 islands and our people, our tourism will remain to be a vital economic sector for our country in the decades to come.”

Government tourism agencies, however, are allocated just P3 billion in 2024, about 20 percent less than their approved budget this year, and access to P1.27 billion in marketing funds next year. Similarly, support for the construction and repair of roads and other infrastructure to tourism destinations is just P13.97 billion next year, 21 percent lower than the budget in 2023.

MEANWHILE, participating stakeholders were encouraged by the sales and foot traffic at the PTM, held over the weekend at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Fe Abling-Yu, president of the Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa), told the BusinessMirror there was an estimated “30-40 percent increase in foot traffic” at the travel fair this year, from last year’s 48,738 attendees. But there were still no initial sales figures for the entire event, although she expressed optimism it would exceed last year’s P16 million.

She noted though, on an individual basis, “Sales in Ilocos Norte were high in terms of tour packages, accommodations, and products.” For another, the Bellevue Group, with hotels in Alabang, Quezon City, and Bohol, racked up some P500,000 in sales, she added.

The travel fair, organized by Philtoa, brought together nearly 200 exhibitors from all 17 regions of the Philippines, from hotels to resorts, travel agencies, tour operators, and tourism offices under one roof. The one-stop shop made it easy for patrons to check out vacation packages from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and avail themselves of discounted rates from sellers.

‘Make new discoveries’

“IF there is anything that the recent pandemic restrictions have taught us, it is to love our freedom to travel, our freedom to explore. Let us take advantage of this freedom to make new discoveries,” Abling-Yu said at the opening of the travel fair on Friday.

For her part, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said the Philippine Travel Mart is “another driving force to push the tourism industry closer to its pre-pandemic levels and further to even exceed it.” There were 3.63 million international travelers who arrived from January to August 30 this year,  just 36 percent less than the arrivals during the same period in pre-pandemic 2019, according to data from the Department of Tourism.

The PTM began as a DOT initiative in 1989, meant primarily to cater both to trade and the consumer market. In 1994, the Philtoa took over the event  and has organized and staged it  as its flagship project.

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